Keeping the Noise Outside, AIA Virtual Conference Session looks at Acoustical Performance

A crash, boom, POW or pop!

Sound is a concept that is so seemingly simple. Something makes a noise, and we hear it. However, it is much more complicated than that.

After having to cancel last year due to COVID-19, there was hope for AIA’s Conference on Architecture to return in person this year. Still, there was uncertainty concerning the pandemic, so the organization opted for a virtual platform. The event is taking place over a four-day program, and includes a number of seminars, demonstrations and various other virtual activities.

During the June 17 session, Greg Galloway, ProTek brand manager at YKK AP America, shared ways to maintain a working knowledge of performance standards and testing, review the basics of sound transmission and identified measures that can be taken to improve and achieve the desired acoustical performance with components and cladding.

According to Galloway, mental and physical health can face adverse effects when it comes to noise pollution. Noise can cause irritability, stress, hearing conditions and high rates of cardiovascular disease. But first, he posed the question: what exactly is sound?

Once explaining that a soundwave is a pressure disturbance created by a vibrating object that transports energy, he reviewed the attributes of a soundwave and exactly what amplitude, pitch and wavelengths are.

Understanding the basics of sound and noise are needed to establish sound transmission class (STC) and outdoor-indoor transmission class (OITC) ratings for windows, doors, storefronts and curtainwalls. When it comes to designing for acoustics, everything is circumstantial and understanding the fundamentals is important. Galloway said there is not one specific answer to the question “How much noise isolation do I need?” However, he did come up with a formula: determining the outdoor-to-indoor noise level reduction to achieve the desired interior background noise level is done by acquiring the present and future noise levels from external sources and then determining the maximum amount of background noise permissible for interior spaces. In addition, in order to find out these figures, it is important to know the basics.

Galloway also offered different approaches to achieve sound isolation. Some of these were to increase the weight or density of the system, decoupling and using sound damping tapes.

Window style is important for sound isolation. According to Galloway, fixed windows are the “best.” He added that compression sealed windows are the best operable window choice.

When concerning glazing, he added, “Laminated glass absolutely improves sound control,” said Galloway, pointing out that triple glazed had minimally better performance when compared to monolithic and dual glazed, but improvements are negligible.”

Galloway summarized his discussion by emphasizing his points on maximizing airspace with dual glazing, using dissimilar glass thickness and to opt for laminated glass.

The AIA Conference on Architecture is an ongoing series. Sessions will continue July 8, July 29 and August 19. Stay tuned to USGNN for the latest updates.

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